LeBron James secured the highlight of the night Wednesday night when he stepped back and buried the Warriors.
That step-back 3-pointer probably did not beat Syracuse guard Tyler Ennis' near-half court heave to defeat Pittsburgh and keep Syracuse undefeated in college basketball. Let ESPN debate which game-winner at the buzzer was better today.
Yesterday the debate was squarely on LeBron James as he boldly declared that he will be on the NBA's Mount Rushmore when all is said and done. He made these statements in an interview with NBA.com's Steve Smith for a one-hour NBATV special set to air Monday (h/t Ben Golliver of Point Forward):
I’m going to be one of the top four to ever play this game. For sure. And if they don’t want me to have one of those top four spots, they better find another spot. We’ve got to bump somebody. Somebody got to get bumped. That’s not for me to decide. That’s for the architects, to chisel somebody’s face out and put mine up there.
With two titles already in tow and an impressive array of statistical accomplishments, James is certainly on his way. This is always a hot-button, easily debated topic that moves the needle on Web sites and on sports talk radio and television. So everyone naturally latched onto it.
Can James be one of the four top players in NBA history? Absolutely. He is incredibly talented and is doing things no player has done before him. He certainly warrants consideration already among the league's greatest.
Putting him on there now is doing a disservice to the players who paved the way as the greats before him — the Michael Jordans, Magic Johnsons, Larry Birds, Bill Russells and Kareem Abdul-Jabbars quickly come to mind. That leaves out greats like Bob Pettit, Oscar Robertson, John Havlicek, Julius Erving, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant from that list.
It is hard to narrow things down to four. Considering yourself as part of a Mount Rushmore is an exercise of some hubris and ego — every great player needs that and should believe himself to be part of it. But it is nearly impossible to pin down four players in an entire league's history.
There are just too many players deserving of that slot and too much debate to go with it — except for Teddy Roosevelt, sorry, you are the odd man out on that mountain.
Continue to debate if you want. I choose to watch LeBron James and his mastery while I still can until the next great takes his place.